Sports Cars > 1977 Arrows FA1 Formula 1 Car

Arrows FA1 F1 Car

In 1977 Arrows Grand Prix International was established by a group of former Shadow Racing Cars employees. Their first car was ready to race in 1978 after a remarkably short amount of time and it was designated the Arrows FA1. It was painted gold with Warsteiner sponsorship and was powered by the trusty Cosworth V8 making 480 horsepower mounted in an aluminum monocoque chassis. It appeared to be quite the impressive debut. Trouble was, the design seemed awfully familiar...

Shadow Cars front man Don Nichols seemed to notice the similarity too. The Arrows FA1 seemed to be highly "inspired" by the Shadow DN9, which was all the more suspicious seeing as how Arrows was founded by Shadow defectors. This lead to a court case where Arrows was accused of copyright infringement. The whole ordeal was rather odd because even though the design was undoubtedly copied, both the Arrows FA1 and the Shadow DN9 were designed by the same man, Tony Southgate, who had left Shadow to help form Arrows. Ultimately, the judge ruled in Shadow's favor and the FA1's were retired. Arrows was prepared for this; so prepared, in fact, that they had already completed a new car so that they wouldn't miss a race!

Once the drama had subsided, the Arrows team continued to soldier on with the new A1. The best result achieved by the FA1 was a second place finish at the hands of Riccardo Patrese in the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix, having lost to the magnificent Brabham "Fan-Car" which only made an appearance at that sole race. Sadly, no future Arrows cars would ever be able to top this achievement, though 4 others would finish in equal position before the team's closure. The Arrows FA1 marked the dramatic and controversial start of the overlooked manufacturer and propelled the team to a 10th place finish in the Constructors' Championship.

Story and photo by Sam McCafferty

ENGINE: Cosworth DFV 3.0 litre V8
TRANSMISSION: 5 speed manual RWD
0-60 MPH: -
WEIGHT: 593 kg / 1,307 lbs